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Coach Calipari Talks Before Georgia Game - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Coach Calipari Talks Before Georgia Game

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Opening statement ...

“I’ll just start. I doubt seriously if Jarred (Vanderbilt) will play. I don’t see it. He’s still limping, so I doubt tomorrow he will play. Hopefully at some point he tries to see what he can do, but I don’t think it’s tomorrow.”

On whether the injury is to Vanderbilt’s ankle …

“Yeah. Yeah.”

On whether he is hopeful Vanderbilt could play in the NCAA Tournament …

“He’s gotta make that decision, and last time it took time to do it, but it’s not going to be me making it. It’ll be him. Him and the doctors to make sure he’d be OK.”

On how that affects their rotations …

“It gives Sacha (Killeya-Jones) and Nick (Richards) a chance to play more. It gives us a chance to put Wenyen (Gabriel) at five. That makes us a different kind of team. It’ll—what we have to do is make up for his energy. Someone’s gotta come in and it’s not one. Let’s all pick it up five percent. We’ve gotta pick up nine rebounds. So where are we going to get those nine? And those nine need to come from a couple—a couple from PJ (Washington), a couple from Wenyen, a couple from Kevin Knox, guards get a couple. Sacha, you and Nick together get a couple more than you’ve been getting. But he’s also active. We’ll miss him. It’ll be harder to play without him.”

On how he is able to touch the right buttons with players in the postseason and who that could be this postseason …

“Well, I’ve kind of been talking to – in front of the team – talking to Quade (Green) because he’s really, off the court, more disciplined in what he’s doing. Now you watch him on the court, more disciplined in what he’s doing. He’s trying to play the way we’re asking him to play and you’re seeing him start to blossom. My guess is he’s going to be one of those guys that he could step out and make plays and do some stuff for us. Because guys gotta make basketball plays. In this kind of tournaments—and again, what we’re trying to do is how good can we become as a team. Let’s do this game to game and let’s see if we can improve and get our mindset where it needs to be.”

On the team’s anxiousness to play in a tournament …

“What I tell them is simple: We’re using this tournament to see how good we can be. We’re using this tournament to prepare for next week. And we’ll also use this tournament to see if we can improve our seed – which it never does. But, we’ll see. So, it’s not like I’m saying let’s not play. This is our opportunity right now to do what we need to do. But again, guys, I’ve been this way when I was at UMass, when I was at Memphis and now here. I have not changed. I’ve been the exact same way and I’ve approached it the same way. Those teams haven’t taken my negativity the wrong way. I think we’ve won a lot of these tournaments. I think.”

On Georgia …

“They’re good. If you listen to what I said prior to the tournament, they were the team that was playing the best at the end of the year. They lost at home to Texas A&M in the last minute. They lost to Tennessee in the last minute. They should have won both games. They had good leads in both games. Then you saw what they did to Vanderbilt and now you see what they did to Missouri. And Missouri, they told me, had the building. So it was basically a road game. I hit Mark (Fox) and just told him – I said, ‘You are coaching your brains out.’ Which I have great respect for him. The game we played against them at our place when I watched the tape, we should have got beat. I mean, they had us beat. So he’s doing a good job. It’ll be a hard game. I mean, these are all hard games. We’re going in with guys that are anxious and never have played in a tournament. ‘What does this mean? Is it going to be different?’ Let’s just worry about us and playing better. I like the frame of mind my kids are in, but you just don’t know when they’re this young and inexperienced.”

On Washington’s relationship with Vanderbilt on the court and how you replicate that …

“I do (worry about that), and I mentioned it to the group. I mean, what they became was they played buddy basketball. They both knew where each other were. They created good opportunities for each other. We’re going to have to see if that can be Wenyen (Gabriel). Can that be him? How can we do this?”

On what Georgia does to always keep the games close when playing Kentucky …

“They take care of the ball. What they’re doing this year is they’re making shots. So now they’ve got some shooters on the perimeter that, as you try to guard all of that stuff around that basket, these kids can make shots. Their freshman point guard (Teshaun Hightower) has played a great tournament in their two games right now. (He) hadn’t been playing as much and then the last two games they’re playing him a lot. And you know what? They’re putting him in a high pick-and-roll kind of like they used to do with JJ (Frazier). So now all of a sudden here’s this kid coming and shooting bombs and then getting to the rim and shooting layups. And he’s a young kid. He’s a freshman. He’s good.”

On if he’s said anything to Mitch Barnhart, who is on the NCAA Tournament selection committee, about seeding and how much conference tournaments matter for seeding for the NCAA Tournament …

“When they talk about us, he’ll be out of the room. He won't be in the room. I wish I could blame him, but I can’t. He’s not in the room.”

On the passing of Dr. Pearse Lyons …

“I lost a really good friend. I mean, our city and our state, when you’re talking about, R.J. (Corman) and Pearse, those are two holes you’re not filling in. You know, I was able to be around and be there for Dr. Lyons as he went through this – not as much as I’d liked to – but the family was keeping everybody away, to be honest, which I totally respected and understood. He’s a guy that would just, ‘How can I help you?’ If the team wasn’t playing well, ‘You need anything? You want to sit down and talk?’ He would bring in psychologists for me that they were using within their company, you know. (He) would send me different things to perk me up and just was a great friend – great friend of this state. I mean, when you talk about what he was able to do – and most of us will not know all the things he’s done until they start coming out now – people will start talking about what he’s done for them personally because a lot of it was heart-to-heart stuff. It wasn’t this group; it was you. He helped him. Rick (Corman) was the same way. You’re just finding out now – years later – of people that he’s touched, and we just need the next wave of guys. It could be Mark (Lyons), Pearse’s son, but we need that next wave of leaders that are about our city and about our state to step up.”

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